Burning Farms

One of the most poignant scenes we witnessed was the many farms destroyed by the lava

Flow Front
The front of the fissure 8 flow approaches Kapoho Bay
We took our helicopter ride Sunday morning, June 3rd. At this point the large flow from fissure 8 had not yet reached the neighborhoods at Kapoho. What the flow was burning through were the many papaya orchards and flower growers found above the bay.

Houses are bad enough, seeing the farms in front of the lava flow was worse. I found myself looking through the telephoto lens at the neat greenhouses, the orchards green in the morning sunlight. The wide flow front was in the process of destroying so many farms, remorselessly moving through the neat rows of papaya trees.

Orchid Plantation Inc.
The greenhouses of Orchid Plantation Inc. disappearing under the lava.
I am aware of how much a farmer puts into the land… Sweat, blood, heart and soul. I look at the photos and I see immaculate operations… Well maintained buildings, no weeds around the structures, the pitiless lava flow advancing. Each scene that appeared in the camera viewfinder was gut-wrenching.

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A Crescent Moon Rises

Ahead of our aircraft a crescent Moon is rising. Outside the window it is completely dark, a blackness broken only by the strobing anticollision lights across the wing and the rising Moon.  Seattle is still hours away as we cross the Pacific, there are no city lights below to break the darkness.

Boarding Alaska flight 850 in Kona
Boarding Alaska flight 850 in Kona
The waning crescent phase is another reminder that the total solar eclipse I have been anticipating is very near, only a few days now. Not that I really need a reminder, the entire reason I am on this flight is to meet the Moon once more, to catch the moment when it blots out the Sun.

Somewhere below me in the cargo hold is the telescope mount, assembled from restored and hand made parts.  In the luggage bin overhead is the telescope, the little refractor that is a prized posession. Through it I have watched and photographed eagles and whales, volcanic eruptions, and distant galaxies.  At my feet is a pack with a few cameras in it, only five.

For over a decade I have awaited the coming of this event.  A day that once seemed so remote draws swiftly near as a rising crescent Moon portends.

Another Hop Across The Pond

It is always a little wierd… I am just starting a vacation, in a plane of folks who are ending theirs. Thus is the strangeness of living in Hawai’i. Talking in the gate with fellow passengers I get asked how was my vacation, “Don’t know yet, I am just starting out”. The reaction is always the same, a little surprise and a little envy, “Oh! you live here!” A good way to start a conversation, we all have little else to do but kill time.

Alaska flight 804 eastbound over the Pacific, bound for Seattle.
One part I never look forward to is the first part of the trip, the five hour hop to the mainland. This will make the third time in a month counting last months trip to visit family and attend Oregon Star Party. Four times in two months, then I stay home for a while.

The flight does not start well, a loud thud and a lurch are all we get when we should be rolling back from the gate. It seems the ground crew has broken a tow-bar. The delay turns the pilot’s promise of an early departure into a fifteen minute delay as they inspect the nose landing gear for possible damage.

This time I remebered to pack a water bottle and some munchies. A bag of cajun spiced trail mix keeps hunger at bay. At least until I can get a quick dinner in the terminal at SeaTac. That will have to do, arrival in Portland will not occur until a bit before midnight.

Overnight in Portland, a chance to have breakfast with my mother before heading to the airport and another flight. This time the destination is Juneau, flying with my Father to pick up the boat.

The tickets were booked far enough ahead that I had my choice of seats. A window seat as usual, I do enjoy the view. This time we went right over the cauldera of Haleakula. I set up the GoPro to do a timelapse using a suction cup mount in the window, it should be a nice bit of video. I hope to use the GoPro in a little creative fun, inspired by some of Mark’s latest projects.

Five hours to Seattle. Three of those hours are now gone as I write this. Two more hours in this seat. At least the inevitable crying baby is far enough forward that the screams are muffled. I look up from typing at a seemingly endless expanse of water and clouds. Pretty, but the sight of land and the end of this flight will be welcome.